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'20 Once Again' Delightfully Illustrates The Impossible Dreams Of The Elderly

BY Adrienne Stanley | Jan 08, 2015 12:21 PM EST


“20 Once Again” brilliantly captures the nuanced emotions of the elderly, who reside in a society driven by filial obligation. “20 Once Again” is a Mandarin Chinese movie which stars veteran actress Grace Guei as Shen Meng Jun, a seventy-year old widow whose meddling behavior drives her family to seek nursing home placement.

The film opens with a modern university scene, in which a professor challenges his students to describe their feelings on senior citizens. Each student is derisive and harsh in their opinions, as they describe the worst aspects of the aged. The university professor is Meng Jun's son, who is the apple of her eye.

Meng Jun is bossy at her son's home and interferes with her elderly cohorts at a local senior center. She is distraught when her family reaches the decision to place her in a nursing home but is comforted by the fact that her grandson, Xiang Qian Jin, is opposed to this decision.

Xiang Qian Jin is portrayed by former EXO member, Luhan. Luhan makes his film debut in “20 Once Again” as Qian Jin, a caring twenty-something whose love for his grandmother stems from her support of his aspiring music career. Qian Jin fiercely opposes the decision to place Meng Jun in a nursing home and schedules to meet her on the night she mysteriously disappears.

When Meng Jun overhears her family discussing their plans to place her in a nursing home, she wanders on the streets. During her travels, she discovers a photography studio, which possesses supernatural powers. With its antique equipment, the studio serves as an oasis for the elderly, delivering those who pose for photographs back to their youth.

Meng Jun emerges from the photography studio as the younger version of herself. Yang Zi Shan portrays Meng Li Jun, the youthful Meng Jun, who shuns contemporary fashion and music for the classics she grew up with. With a beautiful singing voice and appearance, Li Jun attracts the attention of her grandson, Qian Jin. Some of the most hilarious moments in the film come when Qian Jin attempts to flirt with Li Jun, at a bar. Even though the situation is awkward, Li Jun continues to display affection for Qian Jin.

With her vintage fashion sensibility and affinity for classic Chinese ballads, Li Jun stands out from other young women. She catches the eye of Tan Zi Ming, a music producer who is on the hunt for the next big act. Chen Bo Lin (Bolin Chen) won over Taiwanese drama audiences with his award-winning performance in “Time With You.” He portrays Zi Ming with compassion and grace, as the character begins to fall in love with Li Jun.

“20 Once Again” is directed by Leste Chen, whose past releases include his debut film “The Heirloom” and the 2011 hit “Love on Credit.” Leste Chen had his directorial debut at 25 and has received acclaim as one of Taiwan's shining stars in film. He brings fresh perspective to “20 Once Again” which is an adaptation of the 2013 Korean comedy “Miss Granny.” Through the incorporation of aging buildings, antiques, and vintage clothing, Leste Chen transports moviegoers into the mind-bending experience that is Meng Jun's life.

The plot unravels from beginning to conclusion, with little room for boredom. While many K-pop and Chinese pop music fans may be hyped for “20 Once Again” because of Luhan, the chemistry of the ensemble cast is what makes the movie worth seeing. The film is thought-provoking, challenging views to examine their treatment of the elderly and to contemplate their own mortality. “20 Once Again” is a family comedy that is definitely a must-see film for 2015.

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